Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Finally, someone is proposing to fix the loophole in the Canadian criminal code that allows bestiality.
After Nathaniel Erskine-Smith’s private member’s Bill C-246 — the Modernizing Animal Protections Act — was defeated in second reading by a vote of 198 to 84, it was left to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to do something to improve animal protection laws. Despite it being a Liberal bill that would have seen the first substantive change to Canada’s animal protection laws in over 100 years, a total of 177 Liberal MPs voted against it. Only two Conservative MP’s voted in favour of it, and one of them was the MP for Calgary Nose Hill, Michelle Rempel.
Rempel has now introduced her own private members Bill C-388 – An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (bestiality). While it’s not as comprehensive as Erskine-Smith’s bill, it is intended to respond to the 2016 R. v. D.L.W. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the acquittal of a British Columbia man who was charged with bestiality after compelling the family dog to sexually abuse his 16-year-old stepdaughter.
“The Supreme Court has clearly indicated that this is a legal grey area that can only be corrected by legislation. I am disturbed that the government has not yet corrected this glaring void in our criminal code.
This is a non-partisan issue that is clearly needed to keep both humans and animals safe. The current law is reflective of an archaic understanding of sex, and the change that I am seeking to make with my bill both reflects the language of the Supreme Court ruling, and frankly is a no-brainer. The Liberals should have introduced legislation to correct this issue immediately after the ruling. Nearly a year and a half later, I hope that tabling this bill will encourage the Prime Minister to stop dragging his feet and take action to make this common sense change.”
Animal welfare and rights have long been considered a fairly liberal and left-wing issue. The current Liberal government has not, however, supported its party’s own bill; the ramifications of this disappointing result were felt by animal rights/welfare advocates across Canada. It left little doubt that we have our work cut out for us.
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